Clear definitions for lifecycle criteria
A steady stream of inbound leads is great—but if those leads aren’t ultimately proving to be valuable, you’ll end up frustrating your sales team. Coming to a mutual agreement with regard to lead lifecycle criteria is crucial.
With your sales team, work to define exactly which criteria must be met in order for a lead to become marketing qualified, to become sales qualified, and to be marked as a sales opportunity. Your internal definitions may vary, but here are the standard criteria suggested by HubSpot.
Lead: Leads have shown more interest in what you offer than subscribers have. Typically a lead has filled out a form with more than just an email address, often for some sort of content-based offer on your website. We see companies use the lead lifecycle stage for what we think of as general, broadly appealing, or top of the funnel offers. As each lead demonstrates a higher degree of sales readiness and qualification, they will move to further stages.
Marketing Qualified Lead: Marketing Qualified Leads, commonly known as MQLs, are those people who have raised their hands (metaphorically speaking) and identified themselves as more deeply engaged, sales-ready contacts than your usual leads, but who have not yet become fully fledged opportunities. Ideally, you should only allow certain, designed forms to trigger the promotion of a lead to the MQL stage, specifically those that gate bottom of the funnel offers like demo requests, buying guides, and other sales-ready calls to action.
Sales Qualified Lead: Sales Qualified Leads are those that your sales team has accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow up. Using this stage will help your sales and marketing teams stay firmly on the same page in terms of the quality and volume of leads that you are handing over to your sales team.
Opportunity: Opportunities are contacts who have become real sales opportunities in your CRM.
Customers: This is everybody’s favorite lifecycle stage: an actual, paying customer.